In 1999, Benny Carter celebrated his 92nd birthday. In a musical career unmatched in longevity, diversity, and excellence, Carter occupies a unique place in American music. As Duke Ellington once wrote: "The problem of expressing the contributions that Benny Carter has made to popular music is so tremendous it completely fazes me, so extraordinary a musician is he." His accomplishments span eight decades as a professional musician-from the 1920s to the 1990s.As a soloist, Carter, along with Johnny Hodges, was the model for swing era alto saxophonists. He is nearly unique in his ability to double on trumpet, which he plays in an equally distinctive style. In addition, he is an accomplished clarinetist, and has recorded proficiently on piano and trombone. As an arranger, he helped chart the course of big band jazz, and his compositions, such as "When Lights Are Low" and "Blues In My Heart," have become jazz standards. Carter has also made major musical contributions to the world of film and television. His musicianship and personality have won him the respect of fellow artists and audiences on every continent.